The City of Santa Barbara is hosting a workshop on traffic and pedestrian safety on Saturday to address concerns among Eastside residents and businesses.
Residents have urged the city to install improvements along the Milpas Street corridor and Eastside neighborhoods to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
They’re concerned about cars speeding and ignoring pedestrians, dark streets in areas without any street lighting, and children walking to school in areas without stop signs or traffic lights.
There are six schools in the area, and thousands of students walk to class every day, according to the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, which has been involved in the Eastside pedestrian safety effort for two years.
In October 2011, 15-year-old Sergio Romero was killed after a driver speeding southbound hit him while he was walking across Milpas Street at Ortega Street.
Romero had just finished band practice at Jasmine’s Alternative Music School and walked a friend across the street to the bus stop. He was walking back across the street to wait for his father to pick him up when he was hit by a southbound vehicle.
People asked for traffic lights there and at Milpas and Yanonali streets, but the City Council instead approved pedestrian-activated rapid flashing lights at Milpas and Ortega streets, and overhead mounted flashers at Milpas and Yanonali streets.
Last September, the council approved a Neighborhood Transportation Management Plan, which will pursue quick-fix improvements and long-term capital projects for the area.
Saturday’s meeting will just be about hearing resident concerns, and staff members won’t respond until a later meeting in April, transportation project planner Jessica Grant said.
There will be multiple tables with Spanish-speaking, bilingual and English-speaking facilitators who will listen to groups of Eastside residents. The main areas of concern they’ll talk about are: speeding and traffic laws; neighborhood lighting; missing sidewalks and access ramps; bicycling and bus transit, she said.
Since many meetings are dominated by advocacy groups and advisory board members, this meeting is directed at getting input from the citizens at large, Grant said.
“It’s the nature of personalities of board members—they’re great and we work with them all the time—they sometimes can dominate a room, and I want to hear from the mother that has three kids, and hear about her experiences getting around the neighborhood.”
The city will also be sending surveys home with students from Adelante Charter Elementary School, Franklin Elementary School and Cleveland Elementary School next week to get more input from families.
“All Eastside residents should attend, and children are welcome to participate,” Grant said.